Learning Through Doing:
The Role of Field Instruction in the BSW Program

Introduction

Classroom and field learning have a synergistic and critical relationship within social work education. The Simmons College BSW program progressively socializes students to the profession through theoretical learning in the classroom and hands-on learning in the field. First, students fulfill service-learning hours and then are placed in formal internships.

Service-Learning: Students in the Field From the Start

Simmons College BSW students begin their field work from the start of their academic careers through the Program's Service-Learning component. Service-Learning is defined as community service or volunteer service that both meets the needs of a community agency or program and the student and also contains a formal student reflection component. This reflection may take place through written assignments and/ or classroom discussion. It is intended that, through community activities, BSW students will gain exposure to and practical experience with social service organizations and various different populations served by social workers within the community. In this way, students will develop some basic social work skills and a beginning sense of professional identity before they enter the more structured field education program in their Junior and Senior years.

Freshmen majoring in social work are required to complete 40 hours of service-learning. Sophomores are required to complete 80 hours of service-learning. Some social work courses have service-learning built into the curriculum, allowing students to fulfill some of their service-learning requirement while enrolled in the course. Service-learning hours may be completed at one agency or at different sites, depending on agency need. Students are encouraged to seek out service opportunities that appeal to them and to consult their social work faculty advisor for assistance and guidance in making decisions about their service.

Students are assisted with locating service-learning sites by the Director of Field Education and the Scott/ Ross Center for Community Service (Main Campus Building Room W102, 617-521-2700, ). The Scott/ Ross Center for Community Service is a major resource for information about the many service opportunities already available to Simmons students. Students are given assignments and meet periodically with the Director of Field Education to support their learning in their service-learning placements.

Our Service-Learning partners for the 2013-2014 academic year include:

Field Placement

During the junior year, BSW interns are required to complete 100 hours of field education between the months of January and May, with the College breaks and holidays off. This works out to approximately 8 hours each week in field placement and these hours can be scheduled flexibly throughout the week to meet the needs of the agency and the student. During the senior year, BSW interns are required to complete 425 hours between the months of September and May, with the College breaks and holidays off. This works out to 16 hours each week in field placement. These hours, too, can be scheduled flexibly depending on agency and study needs, but the hours are generally done in two full days (8 hours) each week.

During Field Placement, students will be enrolled in advanced BSW courses, such as Social Work Practice II, and Field Seminar I and II. These courses will provide students with support and continued theoretical understanding related to field education.

BSW Field Placement Opportunities

Below, please find examples of possible field placements and tasks. Be aware that this list is just an example and does not provide a complete list of placements or tasks. Placements and tasks will depend on students' learning needs and experience level, as well as the needs of the placement.